Vatican Has Secret Rules to Protect Children Fathered by Priests

Priests have fathered children all over the world.

Alessandro Gisotti, a spokesman for the Vatican, has acknowledged that the Holy See indeed has a secret guideline to deal with priests who break their celibacy vows and become fathers. The Vatican, however, was reluctant to make these guidelines public, citing internal matters. The spokesman, however, told The New York Times that the overriding aim of the document was to protect the child.

The matter became public when an Irishman, Vincent Doyle, found out his father was a priest. He was subsequently shown a document stating the guidelines by Archbishop Ivan Jurkovic, the Vatican's selected envoy to the United Nations. The document, according to Doyle, actually has a name: “Children of the Ordained.” According to Gisotti, the document, whose latest iteration dates back to 2017, distilled multiple years’ worth of experience and procedures. The guideline “requests” the priest to leave his profession and assume parental responsibilities.

Catholic priests are officially ordered to maintain a celibate life, meaning they should not engage in any sexual activity. The rising levels of sexual abuse scandals involving priests show such rules are increasingly being broken. There are, however, multiple examples of ministers engaged in consensual sex. The Vatican continues to hold down on its celibate stand.

Coping International, the support group founded by Doyle, now has 50,000 subscribers sprinkled over 175 countries. A few children have come from consensual relationships, but most are the product of abuse and rape. According to Doyle, this will be the next scandal which will rock the Catholic Church. He said priest-fathered kids are found all over the world.

A large number of clerical sexual abuse survivors from all over the world have gathered in Rome during the third week of February to protest and hold vigils outside a summit involving senior church figures including bishops. Senior Catholic bishops will meet in Rome to engage in a four-day long discussion on the issue.

Monsignor Ripa, a Vatican functionary, working as an undersecretary in Holy See's Congregation for the Clergy, told the media that the guidelines are a formality and not an order. Things may change, Pope Francis himself during a press conference while flying back to Rome from the UAE. He said the Vatican has been working on such cases for a long time.

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